"Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me." - Matt. 18:5-
Are your rules well posted and fully understood?
Rules are not just for the classroom. Movie theaters and restaurants post rules for customers and employees. We are instructed not to enter certain areas, where food and drink is appropriate to consume, and even to silence our cell phones. The term "rule" sounds harsh, but many churches have "notices" or "reminders" to keep food and drink out of the sanctuary or silence cell phones.
When helping individuals with special needs, clear rules are vitally important. Rules make many people feel safe. As often as possible, students should help create rules that they believe will add to the learning process. Short statements and pictures can ensure the each rule is fully understood.
Does your behavior management system teach and reward appropriate behaviors?
Punishing a behavior may be necessary, but it does not teach the appropriate behavior that the student is failing to exhibit. When teachers discipline students they should use specific personal language and give the student an opportunity to role-play a proper response to the situation.
Teacher: "Johnny, I find it hard to teach when you
shout out in class. Can you make a plan to meet your needs
without disrupting my lesson."
Johnny: "Well, I guess I could write my comments down and
talk about them after you are finished teaching."
Teacher: "Good Plan!"
Of course, all conversations will not be this simple, but students need to understand how their actions affect you and be given an opportunity to redeem themselves by solving their own problems. Behaviors that students decide on themselves are the ones they are most likely to repeat.
What is your seating arrangement?
A simple change of scenery can help many students become more engaged in instruction. Students who are easily distracted can be placed closer to the front of the class where you can monitor their engagement. Students who fidget causing distractions can be placed to the far left or right where they are in clear view of you and out of the line of vision of the other students. Another helpful seating arrangement is to seat youth leaders or responsible students with students who struggle. Pairing students can provide the struggling students help taking notes, finding scripture, and discussing questions. Your seating arrangement will need to match your personal teaching style.
Have you dedicated lessons to teaching social skills?
Social education is vital to the development of all individuals and is best taught in the church. Lessons on social skills can include sharing, listening, trusting, caring, and so many more. These lessons can be taught through situation cards that present a scenario in which students can decide on an appropriate response. Role-play is another great method for teaching students how to make right choices. Proper behavior needs to be modeled to prove that is yields a positive result. If you see the same social problems arise over and over in your classroom, take a few lessons and teach those skills. Many great products are available for teaching social skills. Some ideas can be found on our resource page.
Is the curriculum at the proper instructional level for all students?
Parents are your greatest resource when determining a student's ability. Parents often know their child's comprehension level or can supply their Individual Education Plan (IEP). In some cases the student can tell you how challenged he or she is by the material you are presenting. The student should be able to accurately answer some of the questions you are presenting and leave with an accurate understanding of the basic concepts presented. We are always adding advice to our instruction page that may help you to address issues regarding instructional level. Some special curriculum and instruction resources can be found on our resource page.
How are students involved?
Students can be instructed in helpful methods of taking notes through modeling and easy to follow outlines. You can have students fill in blanks as you teach to keep them focused or have them answer multiple choice/short answer questions throughout the lesson so they can relate to the information. Another option would be a large chart or graphic organizer that the teacher presents and all students contribute to. Below I have